What is it?
A cataract is clouding of the lens in the eye.
There are many factors that increase the risk of having cataracts. Exposure to ultraviolet light causes damage to the lens of the eye and, with time, may lead to cataracts. Trauma or surgery of the eye increases the risk of cataracts. Diabetes and genetic disorders, such as galactosemia, may put you at a higher risk for having cataracts. Some medicines, such as prednisone or cortisone, can increase the risk of cataracts. Smoking may even increase the risk of having cataracts.
Signs and Symptoms:
Cataracts usually develop slowly over time, making the changes in vision gradual and less obvious. You may not see as clearly and have trouble seeing in dim lighting as the lens becomes cloudy. If the lens becomes totally cloudy, you will lose sight in that eye.
Wear sunglasses outside on sunny days. If you smoke, quit.
When you cannot see well enough to safely do your activities, surgery may be done to remove the lens of the eye.
- Spinach, tomatoes, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli and cauliflower), citrus fruits, and melons may decrease your cataract risk.
- Eating foods high in beta-carotene and vitamin C may prevent cataracts.
- Eating large amounts of salt, fat, and butter may increase your cataract risk.
Herbs and Supplements:
Before taking any herbs or supplements, ask your caregiver if it is OK. Talk to your caregiver about how much you should take. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the label. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to. The herbs and supplements listed may or may not help treat your condition.
Recommended Screening Tests/Exams:
You should have your eyes checked every year.
Other ways of treating your symptoms : Other ways to treat your symptoms are available to you.
Talk to your caregiver if:
- You would like medicine to treat cataracts.
- Your symptoms have not gone away or improved by these self-help measures.
- You have questions about what you have read in this document.
You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.
1. Bravetti GO, Fraboni E & Maccolini E: Preventive medical treatment of senile cataract with vitamin E and Vaccinium myrtillus anthocyanosides: clinical evaluation. Ann Opthalmol Clin Ocul 1989; 115:109-116.
2. Jacques PF, Taylor A, Hankinson SE et al: Long-term vitamin C supplement use and prevalence of early age-related lens opacities. Am J Clin Nutr 1997; 66(4):911-916.
3. Kushi LH, Lenart EB & Willett WC: Health implications of Mediterranean diets in light of contemporary knowledge. 1. Plant foods and dairy products. Am J Clin Nutr 1995; 61(6 suppl):1407S-1415S.
4. Tavani A, Negri E & La Vecchia C: Food and nutrient intake and risk of cataract. Ann Epidemiol 1996; 6(1):41-6.
5. Taylor A, Jacques PF, Chylack LT Jr et al: Long-term intake of vitamins and carotenoids and odds of early age-related cortical and posterior subcapsular lens opacities. Am J Clin Nutr 2002; 75(3):540-549.
Last Updated: 1/4/2011